As you can see from our previous post, we have a very limited monthly grocery budget. As a matter of fact, if you were to break it down to an average per day, we allow less than $9.37 per day for that portion of our overall expenditures. You can do the math and find out that it is about $1.56 per person per meal when considering 3 meals per day. You might think that is a bit crazy and you would not get an argument from us. So let’s look at this in a bit more detail.
The USDA actually publishes a monthly report that shows what US families should be expected to spend, on average, to provide healthy meals, prepared at home. They take in to considerations such things as how many people are in the family, their ages, and the spending category they fall into (Thrifty, Low-cost, Moderate, or Liberal). They actually use these calculations in the determination of the distribution of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits which they administer. This is a copy of their July 2019 bulletin published in August 2019.
As you can see, our budget is well below even their allowance for a family of two adults, ages 51-70 years of age. Problem is, we don’t receive SNAP benefits so we have to live within our real life, limited budget. Thus, we have the $285 per month and that is what we work with. Now, the purpose of our discussion here is not to complain about whether or not it is fair that some receive government assistance while others do not. It is to help show how we overcome the restrictions we deal with. So, I would like to share a few tips with you that can work, no matter what your budget level.
- Create a written plan and stick to it. It has been proven time and again that meal plans that are on paper and posted in the kitchen are much more effective.
- Shop for your ingredients in advance. You are much more likely to stay on plan if you have the right stuff on hand.
- Shop and prepare in bulk. You can save both time and money if you shop for bulk items, such as family packs of meat. When you prepare double and freeze a meal ahead you will still be able to eat nutritiously if you run into a day where you run out of time.
- Use ads, coupons, and lists and stay on track. Save additional costs by planning menus around the items that are on sale. Compound your savings by using coupons. Always use a list to avoid compulsive shopping and overspending.
- Cut out the CRAP! No, really. Stop buying chips, water, soda, and all of those other prepared items that you can make yourself for far less. They are not healthy, they are not cost effective, and they do not provide any nutritive value. Not to mention they are usually the most expensive items in the store.
- It’s not an “Old Wive’s Tale”. Never go to the store on an empty stomach. Make sure you go after a fulfilling meal. You will spend less, guaranteed.!
Now these tips are pretty generic but I promise you that they will work for every single one of you. There are many, more detailed efforts that I make to keep our costs so very low, however. In Part 2 of this discussion I will get into some of those creases and crevices to show you just what I mean. I do quite a bit of planning before I just head out the door to the local grocer. Until then, if you have any specific questions or comments you would like to discuss, let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Can’t wait to see you on the ByWays!